My personal blog on Scottish Women's Football
Aya Miyama penalty 33, Laura Bassett own goal 90+2
Fara Williams penalty 40
Japan named the same team that had knocked out Australia in the quarter-finals.
Mark Sampson had named at least two changes for each match, but for the semi-final he made just one change with Toni Duggan replacing Karen Carney.
England could have scored after just 34 seconds. Jodie Taylor, who scored early on against Canada, flicked the ball over the head of Saki Kumagai and then just shot narrowly wide of the far post.
Early on, Japan showed their threat from their incisive passing. Nahomi Kawasumi’s dangerous cross was cleared by Laura Bassett, and then moments later Rumi Utsugi tried to catch Karen Bardsley out at the near post, but the England keeper dealt with it. Then Japan threatened with their speed. Aya Miyama set up Aya Sameshima blasted the ball over.
Japan came close from a 40-yard free-kick. Miyama’s ball bounced awkwardly just ahead of Bardsley who managed to react to palm the ball over the crossbar. If the free-kick had gone in though, it would have been ruled out for offside as Yuki Ogimi interfered with play.
England then fired a warning. Lucy Bronze’s long-throw fell in the box to Toni Duggan who fired her shot over. Then tenacious play from Jill Scott down the right saw her pick out Duggan, but she could only mishit her volley over.
Then the game changed as Japan were awarded a contentious penalty. Azusa Iwashimizu’s long ball sent Saori Ariyoshi towards the penalty area when Claire Rafferty, who had got the wrong side of the Japanese player, pushed her over. The contentious part comes from the fact the push was done just outside the box, but the rules state the penalty should be given if the foul continues into the box. Aya Miyama was made to wait, then stuttered with her run-up, but then calmly dispatched the ball into the left corner.
England tried to make an immediate reply. Once again, Bronze caused mayhem with a long-throw, but this time Duggan couldn’t get her shot off. Then moments later, Rafferty tried to make amends with a long-range effort which went wide.
But then England did win a penalty. Fara Williams’ corner fell to Steph Houghton who was inexplicitly clipped on her ankle by Yuki Ogimi. It is debatable whether the contact was enough for the England captain to go down. Like Miyama, Williams was forced to wait, and like Miyama, Williams fired the ball into the left corner. Ayumi Kaihori had dived the right way, so it needed to be the perfect penalty to score.
Early on in the second half, another Bronze long-throw caused chaos with the ball hitting Saki Kumagai’s foot and looped high up, but Kaihori caught it. Then a Miyama corner was reworked towards Ogimi, but she was denied by brave keeping from Bardsley to claim the ball at her feet.
But it didn’t take long until England started to pose a threat again. Houghton’s driven free-kick picked out Bronze who had lost her marker brilliantly, but she could only head over. Toni Duggan then shot from the edge of the box, but her effort smashed off the crossbar.
Then Ellen White, who had only just come on, nearly scored. On the edge of the box, she took her time and then tried to curl the ball into the far corner, but Kaihori made a brilliant save.
Seconds later, half the stadium thought England had taken the lead. Williams’ corner picked out Jill Scott whose header went agonisingly wide of the far post.
Mana Iwabuchi, who had scored the winner against Australia, came off the bench and nearly made an immediate impact twice. Iwabuchi got the better of Bronze, but her cutback was blocked by Bassett. Bronze picked up an injury in the incident and had to be replaced by Alex Scott. Seconds later, Iwabuchi cut off the wing and broke into the box, but her shot curled wide of the near post. Japan came close to a second goal minutes later when Miyama’s deep cross picked out Mizuho Sakaguchi whose header went wide of the far post.
England nearly scored through fortunate circumstances when Rafferty overhit her cross which looped over Kaihori and hit the crossbar.
With minutes remaining, Sakaguchi played a brilliant long ball towards Ogimi who was stopped by Bassett’s superb tackle, and then Houghton cleared. Then Houghton’s free-kick was poorly punched clear by Kaihori, but England could not take advantage of the situation.
And then, in the 92nd minute, Japan got their winner in the most heartbreaking and cruel circumstances imaginable. Japan broke with speed, and with England having committed players forward, Kawasumi played a delightful ball which was going to give Ogimi a certain goal-scoring chance. Bassett had to make a clearance, but to do this, she had to stretch to reach the ball which looped high up, then hit the crossbar and then bounced over the line.
The result means Japan will play the USA in the final, a repeat of the 2011 World Cup Final which Japan won on penalties.
Laura Bassett – England
Japan: (4-4-2) Ayumi Haihori, Saori Ariyoshi, Azusa Iwashimizu, Saki Kumagai, Aya Sameshima, Nahomi Kawasumi, Mizuho Sakaguchi, Rumi Utsugi, Aya Miyama, Shinobu Ohno (Mana Iwabuchi 70), Yuki Ogimi.
Goals: Aya Miyama penalty 33, Laura Basset own goal 90+2.
Booked: Yuki Ogimi 90.
England: (4-3-3) Karen Bardsley, Lucy Bronze (Alex Scott 75), Steph Houghton, Laura Bassett, Claire Rafferty, Jade Moore, Fara Williams (Karen Carney 86), Katie Chapman, Jill Scott, Jodie Taylor (Ellen White 60), Toni Duggan.
Goal: Fara Williams penalty 40.
Booked: Claire Rafferty 31.